Disagreement But Partnership
"Emre Zeytinoğlu"

It is a habit to attribute great meanings to some partnerships. If a certain meaning platform is set at the beginning, the “works” (art or not) which are realized and presented as a result of that partnership can be better perceived and interpreted. That’s because each partnership also includes a certain degree of agreement. In a word, the crossing of thoughts which results the parties coming side by side sets itself to the groundwork of all “works” and each and every type of vision of agreement originated from there, shines out as the main axles of the crossings in question. It then gets easier to perceive a partnership by moving from the main axles without giving any chance for any misunderstanding, difficulty of solution and indecision.

However, walking over the bold underlined main axles while giving full faith to partnerships beforehand is usually equal to walking over a very comfortably arranged park both physically and emotionally. It is like the partnership consists of that park only and nothing outside that park (not even the nearby highway, enormous apartment blocks ahead, passenger planes flying overhead etc.) matters. And it is like that park, of which we have arbitrarily drawn the boundaries, is a different world, purified of all other things outside of its borders. Therefore, walking over the main axles of a partnership always bears an inadequacy.

Thoughts, coincidentally arranged or forced to stand side by side, maybe show some similarities on certain points. But the exact opposite is also possible: Distant thoughts may be forced to grow some bounds between each other “necessarily”, just because they stand side by side coincidentally and practices outside their world compels them to do so. When these different thoughts are forced to stand together one way or another, no matter if they form either real meaning affinities or merge with each other artificially, the outcome is always the same and the bond will never become something more than an analogy in both situations.

Seçil Büyükkan and Deniz Aktaş share a common workshop for a time and they work in the frame of mutual subjects: City, environment and human… Even beyond that, they transform the works they actualized in the workshop to mutual exhibitions. An example to that is the exhibition they held in April 2012, named “Inside or Outside”. It can be said that these two artists create different interpretations on these notions by working together and while Deniz Aktaş points out the dynamics underlying the “external” image of a city, Seçil Büyükkan is involved in dealing with the problematic of “internality” reflection of the dynamics of that city and environment to the humans. And the most important thing is, these two artists dealing with these problematics (external image and internality) are sharing a progress in the context of “metropolis”.

There are not much any points of objection is in question for the matters noted above; this can very well be like this and there is an opportunity to form content partnerships between created works. But the thing which seems as mutual may not always be the preference of thinkers and the ones that present a “job” accordingly; there must be an external factor that joins them forcefully and correlate the dissimilarities. Therefore, if those compulsory practices are left out (like the external part of a park’s comfortable world), then small details may be overlooked. Let’s ask this question: Is it the purpose of working on the subjects of city, environment and human that joins these two artists in a workshop and directs them to hold two exhibitions? It is convenient to answer “yes” to this question for a text that emphasizes the partnership of these works, for most of the texts favor to mention about content partnerships and agreements which can be perceived instantly, rather than compulsory practices in order to create a stable integrity between “works” and thoughts. This is an acceptable approach, otherwise it will be impossible for a text to be understood. However, answering “no” to the spoken question has to be have an interesting side, for this “no” answer can carry us to darker, hardly conceivable but maybe “weirder” thoughts. Actually, it is not a “good” start for creating a text to mention two artists (forcefully) join together for just a workshop partnership rather than a content partnership in the beginning. At least it is an ordinary situation. However, we have to clearly state this: These two artists have come from two different cities and met up in a metropolis. On the other hand, they have also shared a compulsory practice like sharing the same environment when they needed a workshop to perform art in a metropolis. Both of them are creating their separate works formed by separate thoughts and methods and going through separate courses in the same workshop.

For instance, Seçil Büyükkan works on Far East and particularly Japanese engravings brought with herself from much older periods, producing figures by using color and tone alterations formed by two dimensional transparent materials coming onto each other, transforming some painters’ works with her essence, giving them new interpretations (like her work over Francis Bacon’s painting of “Tree Studies of Lucian Freud”). Besides all that, she paints large canvases that include previous fields of interest and thinks about their absolute existence that has broken off the place (“escaped” can also be used as a definition) by sealing the figures there inside a space. In the catalogue of the exhibition named “Inside or Outside” of which these two artists held, Fırat Arapoğlu wrote as such: “In her works in which she questioned the relationality between the human and the environment, Seçil Büyükkan analyzes the existence of figures and their relationships with the environment by creating some sort of vein chart of body. Are the figures stuck in environments really free in them? Or do the environments form the individual?” We will answer this question of Fırat Arapoğlu as such:
“if the problem here is city, environment or human, then no doubt it is an interrelation.” If we are discussing about a designed and built city and its environments instead of natural environments, then we already know that their foundation and development is done by human hand. Therefore, figures here are reflectively running away and turning inward from a city and its environments that were created by their hands, in order to feel their own existence; just like in Francis Bacon’s painting named Lucian Freud…

So things are getting complicated here, aren’t they? We have to think as such: Isn’t there a direct connection between a human’s idea of existence, along with that idea’s “visible part” which is also human and the environment (a city, it is) which he made himself exist? Isn’t the most prominent reason of “going inward” the environment which was founded and developed itself? Wouldn’t that environment be considered as an outward directed construction attempt of an existence? Therefore, wouldn’t existence emanate into a city which affects the existence itself? And in that case, wouldn’t thinking about existence be considered as thinking about the city and its environments too? Besides, can everything gathered “inside” and all the experiences a human carry along in every course be defined as a monument of that emanation? As such, there must be a force that reimburses a Far East engraving which is in an artist’s experience to a metropolis.

Even looking at a city with naked eye means looking at the process of emanation between that city and existence of humanity. When the city shows itself, it surreptitiously uploads all data to us about human. This is the sheer interpretation of Deniz Aktaş: The image of the city… Disturbing places, frightening machines, isolated dark hollows, incomprehensible enormous constructions, fields augmented by complex lines etc. Although they seem so distant from humans, they are shadows of human emanation. These shadows do not resemble the “meaningless” and “pitiful” shadows which Plato (against the idea) did not pay any heed to; they are somewhat like Aristotle’s shadows: Those shadows may still stir some emotions in a human being, of which origins unknown. But reading the city’s shadows from Saint Augustine further clears our minds. He said: “Look at the city; you will see nothing but a pile of stone and glass, that’s where the shadow of God has fallen. Whereas, when you enhance your conscience, you will see the light of God ascending from that pile of stone and glass.” According to Saint Augustine, the thing called “conscience” is, by a Platonian expression, “perceiving” the idea; Saint Augustine had put God instead of the idea: The more the God was perceived, brighter the light from that city would ascend. Western philosophy of the 18th century has directed the God’s light to humanity’s existence straightly. Seeing the light meant the perception of one’s self-existence. In Deniz Aktaş’s paintings, city itself ascends instead of a light from the city. City continuously ascends and reproduces itself in these paintings; the viewer observes a repetitively multiplying city. These images of a reproducing city resembles of Plato’s shadows devoid of emotion in an outward observation. Just in that moment if we look at the images closely, we will discover a situation which invites us to conscience. We understand some human handmade line-interventions has emanated between those images of a reproducing city, beneath the spaces of the background; the light is seized. Those line-interventions are so vague that they cannot be distinguished at the first glance, but they exist and they are there. Can those line-interventions be seen as much as the city allows them to or does the city itself reproduce by those line-interventions - that cannot be decided.

Right here, a very interesting relation between two artists has come to realization: While the line-interventions in Deniz Aktaş’s paintings directly establish a connection with the city, we learn in a very distant and different place, the “internal” lines of the figures in Seçil Büyükkan’s paintings are inspired from the wires of electrical and telephone posts in the city. The “vein chart” is nothing more than the wires circling the city. The city creates the human’s “internal” lines during its reproduction. Should we claim this fact: The reason that binds these two artists together is the lines that have positioned themselves inside a city, belonging to the humanity’s existence. That kind of claim is nothing more than analogy and is a bit laughable too. Perhaps, we should think as follows: Cities and their environments gain some kind of power that attracts humans to them at any given time so long they reproduce within themselves (they produce more of themselves) and when humans flow to these environments, they reproduce those places once more. This never ending interrelation leads to the city; the escape of the humans that were stuck between its boundaries, locking themselves within their shells. There is no harm in repeating it once more: The places where the humans escape and seeks shelter in their existence are the cities they have created and their environments. This condition leads to humans equipping more machinery to the cities and environments, in which they seek a “spirit” for.

This vicious circle is a direct result of the city. Therefore, all differences are confined to an absolute partnership. The differences in the city are bound to intersect at some point because no matter what kind of an event is set in motion there, all of them have a groundwork of the city and its environments. As much as Seçil Büyükkan’s inward figures are intertwined with the city’s electrical and telephone wires, the human-grinding cities also grow with the line-interventions of those humans. Ergo, the question of which is “spirit” and which is machinery is always suspended.
Thus we can conclude, the thing that drags Seçil Büyükkan and Deniz Aktaş to a partnership is a mutual emanation between “different” ones, as a result of urban life. The dissimilar condition between the quest for “spirit” of two artists and the world of machinery, forcefully transforms into a partnership and agreement in a workshop. On the other hand, when the image of the same partnership and agreement is carried to “duo” exhibitions (which is also not considered as an absolute and permanent partnership), we are greeted by an integrity that completes each other. However, due to the randomness in a city, every thought coming side by side is just a partnership of disagreement and we perceive it as an absolute agreement.

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Seçil Büyükkan and Deniz Aktaş
"Hande Şarman"

I’m guessing you have heard their names. Because both of them outshined in recent years on the path they started at the beginning of 2000s. Two artists who share the same workshop are launching another duo exhibition on March 19th. 

I say “another” because they have done it before (Inside or outside). If the current political events have not sucked the life out of you, if you have the energy for it and if you are positive that we need beauty and awareness more than ever; you can have a look and see how similar or different these two artists are. You can search for it in their colors. 

You can look for it inside their eyes if you get to meet them. In fact you could ask: What derives two artists to launch an exhibition together?

You could say: One is from Diyarbakır, the other from Eskişehir; one has figurative works while the other one structural and environmental... So what brings them together? What makes them currently stand together?

Like it happens with every collaboration, what makes them unite is their common point of view. As in every good and healthy relationship: They have a common point of view, yes; but the main assets and eating habits that make them who they individually are, could be different. Their works? Of course they will be distinctive. Gladly...

Briefly, let me explain in clear how they ended up together, if you had difficulties understanding how: This is a problem of those who cannot picture these two artists’ works together, those who don’t ask these artists about it or haven’t seen their previous works... Why? Here is the answer:
The way they have met is a coincidence. One from Diyarbakır, the other from Eskişehir; the two artists have come together in Istanbul. A coincidence was necessary for them to meet; and this happened at an exhibition of course. Then on, they have decided to work in the same workshop and put their signatures next to each other in the same gallery.

They say; “We are very happy to be working together and creating mutual projects. Because we have a parallel vision in art. There is a connection between us that develops with sharing and doesn’t bring in any competition. Although we create totally different works of art, we have many common features both technically and internally. Our ‘Negotiation’ exhibition is a denominator that develops with psychology, city and persona.

One of them (Deniz Aktaş) may have seem to concentrate on city, structure and place; while the other (Seçil Büyükkan) seem to concentrate on human psychology with figurative ideas. If you are dedicated to look deeply inside, if you are facing the sunlight while we are all surrounded with a swamp of lies, you should have realized that “internally”, all of us are on the same direction.

I am enjoying myself while seeing the basic fact that “nothing is actually what it seems” is handled with subtlety and wittiness in their works. See for yourself; what is promised for the audience with the “artworks made from city, persona and the psychology resulting from their gathering” in an era where filth rains instead of rain in a city, which gets uglier day by day…